Founder, President and CEO of Storm International B.V.
Date of birth: May 19th, 1947
Place of birth: London, Great Britain
It has been sixteen years since an unknown consultant, Michael Boettcher arrived in Russia. Today, Storm International employs over 5,000 people and manages several companies. Among them are the multi-entertainment complex Jazz Town; Shangri La casino; New York casino; entertainment complexes Udarnik and Carnival, a chain of slot locations under the name of Super Slots and Slots Café, which runs cafes and bars. Also company now is actively developing all over the world.
It all began in a traffic jam in London’s Leicester Square, in which a 21-year old taxi driver Michael Boettcher got stuck. While in the traffic jam he noticed an announcement in a London newspaper about admission into a croupier school. The idea of changing his job to a more appealing one looked interesting and Michael took the chance. Working in a casino captivated him. It also gave him the opportunity to travel the world. Having worked in the Playboy Club in London, Michael left for Iran, then to the Bahamas, and then returned to London, from where, in 1978, after having worked on a cruise ship, he went to Atlantic City, where gaming had been legalized in 1976. As Casino Training Coordinator he first became involved in the administrative side of the business, later becoming a pit-boss in craps, black jack and roulette.
Asked by a friend to go to London to help with his consultancy company, Michael moved back to the capital. He subsequently opened his own Croupier training school in Leicester Square, where he had first seen the advertisement to become a croupier.
The British Gaming Academy, as it was known, operated for 4 years in London but during the crisis of late 80s and early 90s Michael lost his enterprises. One of his former US partners then had an opportunity in Moscow and asked Michael to look at the possibilities. He fell in love with Russia and opened his first casino, ‘Elite’, together with Atlantic Maritime, The first Russian-American enterprise, where Michael was invited as a consultant, was named «Legend Investments». After buying out the interests of Legend, he created Storm International.
Nowadays Storm International holding company, with its Russian partners, owns and operates Super Slots, Shangri La Casino, the casino and entertainment complex of Jazz Town, the New-York casino, Carnival casino, and the entertainment complex of Udarnik.
Storm International is the biggest casino operator in Russia with more than 5000 employees, keeping its business even during political difficulties around Russian gaming business, even more – developing its properties. The company goes to other markets – Storm has several projects under development all over the world and the first signs are the biggest casino in Armenia (Shangri La – Yerevan) and a casino-hotel in Costa Rica that are going to be opened in the first quarter of this year.
Michael is taking great care of his employees – high salaries, medical insurance, quarterly and yearly bonuses, annual staff parties, manager’s parties and mega-football parties – this is just a standard list of benefits of working in Storm International. At the same time every employee is treated personally for him to be realized maximally.
Via Storm International Michael was the first in Russia to implement the Responsible Gaming program which attends to the needs of gambling addiction. An independent help centre has been financed and, together with the help of the internationally accepted company GamCare, based in the UK, and the Russian entity NAN, is now prominently advertised in all the holding company’s properties and provides literature to help both the addicted and their families. The program includes written warnings on all advertising, social and psychological support, a ban on gambling for the psychologically unstable and strict control in the company’s properties through the training of all staff that come into contact with players. The company was the first in Russia to raise and enforce the minimum age to enter a Storm property to 21 (Russian law allows minimum 18).
Also Storm International created a Responsible Gaming Fund (www.responsible.ru/eng/index), which goal is to spread the principles of responsible gaming among all gaming operators in CIS.
At present Michael Boettcher is one of the main speakers in the Russian gaming industry – newspapers, magazines and TV-channels continuously quote his opinion on gaming laws, operations and social responsibility. This privilege was always used to bring the ideas of responsible gaming to the society.